Ford: Detroit train station key to autonomous vehicle plans

Bill Ford Jr., Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, poses Thursday in the Michigan Central Station in Detroit. Ford Motor Co. is embarking on a 4-year renovation of the 105-year-old depot and 17-story office tower just west of downtown.(AP photo)

By COREY WILLIAMS
Associated Press
DETROIT– Bill Ford looks past the tons of paint, plaster and steel needed to remake Detroit’s blighted Michigan Central train station and sees more than just an iconic building in desperate need of a makeover.
The executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. and great-grandson of founder Henry Ford envisions the future of the carmaker’s foray into self-driving vehicles.
Ford Motor Co. is embarking on a 4-year renovation of the 105-year-old depot and 17-story office tower just west of downtown. The massive project is expected to increase the automaker’s footprint in the city where the company was founded, provide space for electric and autonomous vehicle testing and research, and spur investment in the surrounding neighborhood.
Ford will be reclaiming a derelict 20th century landmark, but it also will be using some iconic Motor City real estate to embark on a 21st century venture.
“This had to make business sense for us,” Bill Ford told The Associated Press on Thursday. “We couldn’t just do this as a philanthropic endeavor. It really will become a statement for us and a great recruiting tool for the kind of talent we’re going to need to win in the autonomous vehicle war.”
The company has said it aims to have a self-driving vehicle on the market by 2021.
The building’s sale was announced last week. The company will announce details of the renovation and its plans Tuesday.
Bill Ford declined to say how much it cost to buy the 500,000-square-foot building from Manuel “Matty” Moroun or how much the carmaker expects to spend fixing it up.